Companion planting means creating communities among plants which can offer mutual benefits to each other. There are certain plants which can act as companions for each other. These plants are good for each other and act as companions before they can offer mutual benefits to each other.
For example, a plant which will need less of an ingredient from the soil and another which would need more of that same ingredient from the soil can act as companions. Low requirement of that particular ingredient from one of them will help the other in getting more than the fair share. There are other reasons too due to which some plants are better companions of each other. Some of the plants help each other in cross pollination.
It is interesting to note that not many researches have been done on companion planting; however the people who do it on their own usually find a lot of benefit in companion planting. Some of these plants as companions help each other in growing; others help in cross pollination or nutrients. However, to get best results from companion planting efforts, it is advisable to not create monocultures. If same types of plants are grown in a congested manner to create a monoculture, they can appear to be an easy target for the pests. Some plants are tall which can be grown to provide shade to smaller plants.
Sweet corn can be taken as the example of tall plants that require a lot of sun while spinach are small and like some summer shade, this is a good example of companion planting.
Another method through which the best benefits of companion planting can be reaped is intercropping. Intercropping is when fast growing plants are sown in between the slow growing plants. In that case, the slower growing plants are spaced widely to give ample space to the faster growing plants.
Companion planting is sometimes used by gardeners to get their crop rid of slugs and buterflies. The gardeners grow many plants which are bird friendly. Birds come to those plants and in turn eat the slugs etc. Plants like mint should be grown in a contained manner.
Companion planting has proved to be useful for many gardeners. Despite the fact that not many authentic researches exist on the topic, the people who are interested in the field have created their own methodology to get the best out of their companion planting efforts which is a very positive approach by them.
Image sources: Planet Natural